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- Unreported Judgment
QUEENSLAND CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL
Gounder v Kumar  QCATA 129
MCDO78-18 Pine Rivers
25 August 2020
On the papers
Leave to appeal refused.
APPEAL AND NEW TRIAL – APPEAL – GENERAL PRINCIPLES – RIGHT OF APPEAL – WHEN APPEAL LIES – where the applicant/appellant agreed to provide accounting services for the respondent – where the parties signed a letter of engagement entitling the applicant to charge to establish the respondent as a sole trader – where the work was done but the respondent then required his business vehicle be by way of limited liability company – where the applicant did further work establishing the corporate structure and charged for it – where the respondent paid for the extra work but sought to recover part by proceedings in the Tribunal as overcharging – where the applicant was ordered to refund part of the money charged for the extra services
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld), s 142(3)(a)(i)
Pickering v McArthur  QCA 294
This matter was heard and determined on the papers pursuant to s 32 of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld)
REASONS FOR DECISION
- The respondent (‘Mr Kumar’) engaged the applicant (‘Mrs Gounder’) to provide accounting services for him in his lock-smith business.
- Mrs Gounder provided a written quotation and did the work described in the agreement. The work entailed accounting arrangements and set up as a sole trader.
- Mr Kumar’s bank subsequently required the business to be structured as a corporate entity.
- Mrs Gounder did additional work to that end.
- The original quote for the necessary accounting work to set up the business as a sole trader was approximately $4,800. Mrs Gounder charged an additional amount for the corporate set up work of $1,320 and an additional sum of $1,900 for financial accounting software.
- Mr Kumar paid all invoices. Subsequently however he sued in the Tribunal to recover $5,516 of the total amount paid on the basis of overcharging.
- The matter was heard before an Adjudicator on 5 March 2019. The Adjudicator ordered Mrs Gounder repay Mr Kumar $1,900.
- Mrs Gounder seeks leave to appeal that decision.
- Given this is an appeal from a decision made in the Tribunal’s minor civil dispute jurisdiction, leave to appeal must first be obtained. If leave is granted then the appeal may proceed.
- Leave to appeal will usually only be granted where an appeal is necessary to correct a substantial injustice to the appellant and where there is a reasonable argument that there is an error to be corrected.
- Many self-represented litigants do not understand the limitations of appeals. An appeal is not an opportunity to re-litigate a matter previously decided in an earlier hearing. An appeal focuses on the error or errors claimed to have been made in the decision at first instance. Every appellant, including a self-represented appellant, is expected to identify the errors claimed to have been made with some attempt at precision.
- In the application for leave to appeal Mrs Gounder simply repeats her claims and submissions made below which were rejected by the Adjudicator.
- The Adjudicator accepted Mr Kumar’s evidence that he did not agree to any additional work by Mrs Gounder save for the cost of changing his business status from sole trader to limited liability company. Mrs Gounder claimed there was a second letter of authorisation signed by Mr Kumar about that but he took it with him from her office.
- Mrs Gounder said she was not present when he did that, but it occurred in a meeting between Mr Kumar and her partners. There was no statement of evidence tendered by Mrs Gounder from any partner present in that meeting supporting that assertion.
- That claim seems to conflict with Mrs Gounder’s earlier evidence in the hearing that there were no other corroborating documents supporting her entitlement to charge for the extra work done by her. The following exchange is noted in the transcript of evidence:
ADJUDICATOR LEMASS: I am wondering if you have got any corroborating documentation where you have written to Mr Kumar saying, “This is a new section of the work which will be the other costs.”
MS GOUNDER: There were no written documents however Mr Kumar was sitting right in front of me and getting the work done so the company formation invoice that he has provided in the claim was done right in front of him.
ADJUDICATOR LEMASS: No, but that’s part of your quote. That’s part of your written quote for which there is no dispute, not part of the blue pen for which there is.
MS GOUNDER: I will start. Now, Mr Mr Kumar approached me. He wanted to operate under a sole trader practice. Sole trader is what this quotation is about. As a sole trader there are minimal requirements. It’s a very simple entity. Now, after going through his resume is what I had determined that, based on the knowledge and overall skill that he has, he will be able to operate as a sole trader. He signs this engagement and now we move on with the project and he goes and he applies for his EFTPOS system with the bank. Now, the bank’s requirement was – and I think he must have dealt with some banker – that it needs to be a company structure. He comes back to me to form a company and I said, “This quotation of $4800” - - -
ADJUDICATOR LEMASS: Well, where’s your new quotation that you say to him, “Variation of original letter of offer. Here is the changes.” Where is that one?
MS GOUNDER: Now, because Mr Kumar was right all the time in there, he even accepted the invoices that I have given him. If he had any issues, he would have questioned why did he pay all the invoices and now he thinks he has over paid or paid too much. He - - -
ADJUDICATOR LEMASS: Because he didn’t sign a letter of engagement.
MR SHANKAR: Yes.
- The Adjudicator accepted Mr Kumar’s evidence that he did not agree to any additional work, save he did concede at the hearing that he asked her to change the business structure from sole trader to a corporation.
- The Adjudicator accepted Mrs Gounder was entitled to charge for the transition to a corporate entity but not for the further work associated with establishing financial reporting services. The financial reporting services cost $1,900 and that was the amount the Adjudicator disallowed Mrs Gounder.
- He was entitled to accept Mr Kumar’s evidence about no agreement being struck between the parties about the cost of supplying additional financial reporting services. That was reasonably open to him on the limited evidence presented by the parties.
- Mrs Gounder has no reasonable prospects of succeeding in an appeal. Leave to appeal is therefore refused.
- Published Case Name:
Gounder v Kumar
- Shortened Case Name:
Gounder v Kumar
 QCATA 129
25 Aug 2020